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Index: Third-Quarter Food Unit Recalls Double Over Previous Quarter

Third-quarter food recalls enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both ticked up from the previous quarter when compared by the pound. Data on the July-September period were released by Indianapolis-based Stericycle ExpertRECALL, which manages recalls for industry, in its quarterly ExpertRECALLTM Index.

FDA and USDA both supervised recalls totaling more than a half-million pounds during the third quarter. FDA enforcement reports documented 252 recalls during the three-month period. Meanwhile, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reported 14 recalls of meat, poultry and egg totaling 519,465 pounds, which was more than double the amount from the previous quarter.

FDA-enforced recalls involved about seven million units, also about double the amount from the previous quarter. One recall was for about 2.5 million units, three were for between 500,000 and one million units, and eight fell in the 100,000- to 500,000-unit range.

All the other FDA recalls were for fewer than 100,000 units.

Fewer than half the FDA recalls (44 percent) were Class 1 recalls, for the most serious threats to human health, while 85 percent of the USDA actions were Class 1 recalls (12 of 14).

FDA’s 252 recalls involved 136 companies, according to the ExpertRECALLTM Index. One company was responsible for 24 recalls, and three others faced more than 10 recalls each.

Stericycle counts each product recalled separately. Usually when multiple products are recalled together, they are announced together.

Nationwide recalls involved 30 products, and another 19 involved both U.S. and customers in at least one other country or U.S. territory.

Allergens continued to be the largest cause of recalls during the quarter, accounting for 40 percent. Allergen recalls can be the result of mislabeling or contamination. Allergens have been the first or second cause of food recalls for each of the past seven quarters.

The potential for Salmonella, Listeria and Botulism contamination caused 40 percent of the recalls during the period. The number of FDA Class 1 recalls rose by 8 percent over the second quarter.

On the USDA side, two companies had more than one recall. Allergens were also the top cause of USDA recalls during the quarter, followed by three recalls for E. coli O157:H7.

The top two USDA recalls account for 55 percent of the total meat and poultry products involved. And three fewer recalls than last quarter resulted in the lowest number of recalls for the past seven quarters.

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